I Don’t Know! (and Pie!)

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Warning: Bragging grandmother ahead.

Nick’s verbal skills are exploding, but sometimes he’s still a little hard to understand. A couple of weeks ago, he said “Mon hee hee!” over and over. Steve and I remained baffled. Eventually he gave up and said “Pie!” (Which means crustless pumpkin pie, which is now a staple in this Nana’s fridge.) Later in the afternoon, we gave him what our family affectionately calls a “Monkey Cookie,” (recipe below) which he happily took, saying “Mon hee hee!”

Okay. We got it.

Just a make-you-smile story? Maybe, but here’s what I pull from it. Hallelujah!! God always understands what we’re saying! He may not give us what we’re asking for, but he likes that we ask, and he ALWAYS understands. He just knows better. ‘Wish I never forgot that during the more disappointing moments of life.

Second Story:

There is a phrase, though, that Nick articulates with perfect clarity. Hands up by his chin, in an adorable semi-soprano voice, he says, “I don’t know!” Because it’s so cute, we look for ways to get him to say it again. (Sorry, bragging. I warned you.)

Second takeaway: Why are we adults so slow to say “I don’t know.” Why do we have to argue the gray areas of life? In matters of theology, should we expect to know very much about the way God chooses to work? And as to more worldly subjects, do we always have to take a hard stand and dig in our heels? Might we benefit from realizing the limits of our own intelligence and information, acknowledging the tiny chance that those on the other side of our proverbial fence could have a few valid points?

One of our family rules, framed in print for emphasis, was “Don’t argue when it doesn’t matter.” Perhaps another way to phrase that could be, “Be willing to say ‘I don’t know!’”

So today I’m asking myself, and you as my readers, to remember your own intellectual weakness and revel in the omniscience of our Lord. Not a bad combination! Have a great week, and feel free to share your responses!

 

Monkey Cookies

  • ½ c. raisins                                                               1 cup oatmeal
  • ½ c. chopped dates                                                  ½ cup flour
  • 1 medium – size ripe banana (mashed)              1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ c. water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

 

Combine raisins, dates, bananas, peanut butter, water, egg, and vanilla in mixing bowl. Beat until blended. Add oatmeal, flour, and baking soda. Mix to blend thoroughly. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheet, flatten slightly. Bake @ 350° for about 10 min. until browned on underside. Store in airtight container. Makes about 40 cookies.

 

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Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus

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Now and then, when I was a teenager back at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, I was given the honor of turning down the lights in the sanctuary just as the congregation got to the last line of this great hymn. Picture this: The pews are filled at the Sunday night service. It’s dark outside, but bright inside, as the final hymn begins. Then the lights go down just as all in attendance sing, “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.” The backlit cross at the front of the church now stands out in stark focus as a hush falls over the room. A little dramatic? Maybe, except that I still see that cross in my mind’s eye and feel that hush in my heart, often just when I’m about to forget about God’s glory and grace.

We can’t dim the lights on the rest of life as easily as I could turn that rheostat back then. Would that we could! Maybe instead, we need to shine greater light on the glory and grace that surrounds us. He is everything. Our full supply. That’s what Helen Lemmel was trying to convey when she penned these lyrics.

O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

Are you, like so many of us, troubled by “the things of earth” today? Is your heavenly vision a bit blurred? Take a breath. Take a moment. Remember whose you are and who He is. Enjoy the right you have as a child of God to fellowship with the Creator of the universe. And let those things that trouble you fade in the light of his glory, with the realization that, while you may not be able to see how right now, his grace is and always will be enough.

I Get To

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Welcome to the holiday blitz. Are you ready? I’m not asking if your tree is already up and your shopping started and your cookies baked… I’m wondering if you are ready inside. I am, by the grace of God, more ready than I’ve ever been, because this year I’ve looked at Christmas, Easter, and every other big moment in life and realized they aren’t as important to me as the little moments in life. I’ve asked myself a dozen times what is important to me. Trees and shopping and cookies are nice, but they don’t really make the cut. Family, friends, worship, rest, health, noticing life—those things make the cut.

Last year, we didn’t put up a tree. Christmas happened anyway. This year, I only put up half of our decorations. The other half can have its turn next year. I will shop, but I’ll remember that, during my last visit with 6 month old Nick, his favorite toys were an empty shampoo bottle and a red Solo cup. ‘Sorta wish I’d learned all these lessons when my children were small.

There will be moments in this holiday season, and in all the seasons thereafter, when life outpaces me, when it will seem that the demands to serve are greater than my time and energy allow. Then I will try to remember what my pastor taught me last week. “I get to” is an attitude that will trump “I have to” every time.

Do you have to do the dishes or run a bunch of errands? I have a wheelchair-bound friend who would love to get to do that.

Do you have to read a stack of papers or pay a stack of bills? My nearly sightless friend would gladly trade places with you for a day.

Do you have to rise in the wee hours, yet again, to care for a sleepless child? My sweet daughter-in-law calls her midnight vigils “bonus time” with her baby. She gets it. She gets to.

This year, I will think first before diving into what I once thought was required of me at Christmas.  If it isn’t important, I just might skip it. And when my list looks long anyway, I’ll remember that, regarding all that life requires of me both now and as the new year begins, I get to.

 

 

The Rubber Met the Road

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On Wednesday, July 27th, the rubber met the road. If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I read, write, and study the topic of trust.

  • Don’t worry, be happy.
  • Trust and obey.

Those lines are pretty easily said and done when life is rocking along. But what about when life is simply rocked? Stephen Covey is famous for saying, “Begin with the end in mind.” So here’s the end of my story: God is faithful. Everything I’ve read and written about trusting him in the dark times is true. Here, though, is the rest of my story.

First of all (pardon the nitty  gritty of this) I want you to know my symptoms. No, make that symptom—singular, and subtle. I had bit of spotting so faint I almost could have missed it, and certainly could have talked myself out of paying any attention to it. No pain. No abnormal pap smears. Just a bit of a blush when there should have been none. Steve and I were cleaning out bookshelves, and I “happened to” scan one that didn’t make the cut, just one final look before I threw it away. Here’s what the book said. Please make a mental note of this and tell every woman that you know: A woman with any abnormal bleeding should see a doctor. And so I did. (And I promise, that’s the last descriptive medical detailing you will read here.)

I started that Wednesday in in solitude, drinking Earl Grey with honey and randomly chose to read Psalms 116-118. I hope you’ll take time to read those chapters today. The passage I read included these verses:

  • “Truly I am your servant, Lord. I serve you just as my mother did, you have freed me from my chains” (Psalm 116:17).
  • “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done” (Psalm 118:17).

I’d never noticed that “mom” part before. In fact, it struck me as a little odd. I didn’t realize God was preparing me for the hours to come. Here’s what you should know about my mom. About 30 years ago, she had the same surgery I ended up having. A teacher, a speaker, and a writer, she is nearly 80 now and continues to be an ace at proclaiming what the Lord has done. Two hours after my Bible reading, the phone rang. Endometrial cancer, stage unknown. I’d need to have a hysterectomy before further treatment could be determined. I scribbled notes, trying not to pass out, hoping to get all the information straight. Then came one of the hardest moments of this journey.

I had to tell Steve that my biopsy showed cancer, but here’s another of what became a stream of blessings. He was home when that call came through. No waiting. No deciding whether or not to tell him the news over the phone. He was, my journal of that day says, “just as I needed him to be.” He held me, prayed with me, and helped me rewrite my scattered call notes so that I’d be able to keep all the doctor’s information straight. It “just so happened” (are you seeing a pattern here?) that all four of our kids would be visiting within a couple of hours. We were thankful for the opportunity to talk to them in person, even though it was hard to see those red-rimmed eyes.

Now you’ve heard the beginning and gotten a glimpse of the end. For the next four blogs, I want to talk about the middle, to “proclaim what the Lord has done,” to describe the creative ways God took care of me, encouraged me, and showed himself faithful. It will be far more uplifting than this introduction has been. I hope you will stick with me for the next several weeks, and that you’ll share my story with as many people as possible, because it’s always good to brag on the goodness of God.

BHFWYH

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House Rule Number Two: BHFWYH. (Be Happy For What You Have.) We all need to create (and maintain!) a habit of happiness, to make looking for our blessings a conscious choice. Being happy for what we have is not about creating better circumstances. An ungrateful attitude can sneak up on us in the best of times, and a determined attitude of gratitude helps carry us through when times are tough. In Hebrews 13:5, God tells us to be content with what we have, because Jesus has said he will never leave us or forsake us. He has told us to be content today, not when we have more money or time or sleep or respect, but now.

For years my husband helped create the BHFWYH habit in our kids by sharing three good things from his day, and then asking them to tell him about three good things in their lives as well. It occurs to me as I type this that we should be continuing that habit over our dinners-for-two! When life requires that we, or our kids, take “no” for an answer, it’s a whole lot easier to stay happy if we have already learned to be grateful for what we have.

Rule Three is really more of an adage than a rule: If You Fuss, You Lose. Take a look at Numbers 14:29, “In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.” When the Israelites fussed, they ended up in the desert for 40 years. When we fuss about the tough stuff in our lives, at the very least we lose our joy. We are so much better off when we learn to trust God cheerfully, even when he says no.

When we let our kids whine, they get grumpy and so do we, do here’s my unsolicited advice on that sort of lose-lose scenario.  If you offer one scoop of ice cream to Junior, and he fusses because he can’t have two, calmly put the unopened carton back in the freezer. If Sally and Susie grumble over who gets to play with a certain toy, calmly confiscate the item. Don’t be mean or vindictive about it. Just make whining a useless ploy.  (And if you’ve become a whiner yourself, it’s time to stop!)  

Two questions I’d love to have you answer by posting here: How do you and your family help each other to BHFWYH? Have you ever “fussed and lost”?

Asking Directions

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It’s an old joke, but still worth repeating:

Why did the Israelites wander around the desert for forty days?  Because Moses wouldn’t stop to ask directions!

You and I know there was a whole lot more to the Exodus story than that, but how often do we wander around in a foggy mess because we haven’t stopped to ask our Lord directions?

Let me introduce you to John M. Whitall, a Quaker ship captain in the 1800’s. He was a man who refused to use weapons, sailing through waters where pirates plied their trade. (God worked it out. You can read all about him, and catch longer versions of the quotes below, in John M. Whitall: the Story of His Life, available on Google Books.)

John learned the secret of asking directions. ”He asked the Lord’s guidance, waiting in silence often times to listen, and expected in every instance to receive it.”

Have we come to expect guidance from our loving Lord?

He observed a time of silence “to wait upon the Lord, twice daily to make it a special business to draw nigh unto him.”

How often are we silent in the presence of our Lord?

He was sure that the Lord, “who counted the hairs of our head, and who noticed the fall of a sparrow, would take care of even the smallest matters that affected His children.” Thus it was his custom in every time of emergency, whether small or great, to refer the situation to this indwelling Teacher or Guide, and to wait until he received what seemed like a sufficient answer. And this was the case in all his temporal affairs as well as his spiritual ones.”

Where do we turn first in a moment of emergency?

John wrote, in a letter to his sister, that “the belief that we all, at every place and time, are under the protecting care of our dear Friend, is most comfortable.”

May we learn to be still, to expect guidance, to trust our Father, and to be at peace in his protection!